CORONAVIRUS cases have risen once again across south Essex despite hopes infection rates may start to drop.

The latest data shows Thurrock has overtaken Basildon as the region’s worst hit area, and is close to recording 4,000 new cases a week.

Infection rates in all of the five boroughs and districts are above 1,900 cases per 100,000 people, which is roughly one in 50 people.

Here is the latest weekly data up January 4 for each area:


3,851 new cases – up 307 from the week before

Infection rate: 2,053

Castle Point

1,828 new cases – up 220 from the week before

Infection rate: 2,019


1,842 new cases up 111 from the week before

Infection rate: 2,102


3,520 new cases - up 307 from the week before

Infection rate: 1,925


3,973 new cases - up 281 from the week before

Infection rate: 2,263

It comes as Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the country was moving towards a stage where it could ‘live with’ Covid.

Mr Gove acknowledged there would still be “difficult weeks ahead” with the NHS facing real pressure, and it was not yet possible to say the current Omicron-driven wave of Covid-19 cases was abating.

The Levelling Up Secretary, who was one of the voices around the Cabinet table arguing for tougher measures when Omicron emerged, said the easing of restrictions would have to be guided by science, but “the sooner the better”.

Mr Gove said lateral flow tests will be free for “as long as we need” and “they’re a vital tool in making sure that we can curb the spread of the infection and also that people who are needed to isolate do so”.

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He told Sky News: “We are moving to a situation – we’re not there yet – but we are moving to a situation where it is possible to say that we can live with Covid, and that the pressure on the NHS and on vital public services is abating.”

From Monday, around 100,000 critical workers are beginning to be offered daily lateral flow testing to help spot and isolate asymptomatic cases and limit the risk of outbreaks in key workplaces.

A further 141,472 cases were announced on Sunday, the fifth consecutive fall – however, this number should be treated with caution as reports often drop on the weekend.

NHS England figures show 16,399 hospital beds were occupied by patients with Covid-19 on Sunday, with 704 of them requiring mechanical ventilation.